Familiar opponent awaits Springfield in Week 6

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield High School football program will face one of its biggest Greater Western Ohio Conference rivals this week for the third time in two seasons.

The Wildcats (2-3, 1-1) travel to Fairmont (3-2, 2-0) in GWOC action on Friday night in Kettering. The Wildcats fell to the Firebirds 24-21 in their only regular season loss last year, but rebounded to end Fairmont’s season with a 21-0 win in a Division I, Region 2 second-round game.

“It’s a familiar opponent that runs a system that’s very difficult to handle if you don’t have the proper personnel,” said Springfield coach Maurice Douglass. “Hopefully we’ll be able to handle the things that they present against us offensively. They’ve got a great coaching staff (at Fairmont). We’re just trying to prepare for them and take advantage of what we see as weaknesses.”

After losing three straight games, Springfield played with a sense of urgency last week in a 49-0 victory over Beavercreek, Douglass said.

“Those last three weeks had been three really tough weeks coming into last Friday,” he said. “Last week, we seemed to turn it over as far as practice is concerned. We had more of a sense of urgency. We were able to get a victory and now that sense of urgency still carries on. I told them ‘we’re woke now.’ I didn’t think we were woke (in Weeks 3 and 4). Now we understand there’s an urgency you have to practice with, you have to play with and take advantage of the opportunities you have.”

The Wildcats rushed for 348 yards and seven touchdowns in the victory. Sophomore Deontre Long rushed for 131 yards and three TDs and senior Jayvin Norman ran for 112 yards and a touchdown.

Douglass praised the Wildcats offensive line — junior tackle Jerome Howe, sophomore guard Noah Epperson, sophomore guard Tyran Freeman, sophomore center Royce Rogers and junior tackle Zy’Aire Fletcher, who recently made the switch from tight end.

“He’s a tight end by nature but the offensive line needed some help and him moving to right tackle made a tremendous difference,” Douglass said. “(Fletcher’s 6-5, 220-pound) frame is one that can be a huge, huge prospect at tackle. Him making that sacrifice for the team is what it’s all about. It’s all about the team. I love the fact that he made that sacrifice. He’s got some potential offers at tight end just if he catches a few passes. Putting that down and doing what’s best for the team is a huge sacrifice and I’m appreciative of that.”

Defensively, the Wildcats will have their hands full against the Firebirds run game, which is led by junior quarterback Brock Baker, who has rushed for 331 yards and three TDs this season. Junior Justin Turner, Jr. (374 yards) and Baker rank second and fourth in the GWOC in rushing yards.

“(Baker’s) the main cog in that offense,” Douglass said. “We’ve got to keep an eye on him every play.”

The Firebirds have won back-to-back games to open GWOC play, beating Northmont 20-14 in overtime and beating Springboro 17-7 last week. Fairmont, which is hosting its homecoming festivities this week, is seeking its first home victory against Springfield since beating the Wildcats 7-3 in Week 10 in 2017.

“We’ll see if we can spoil homecoming for somebody,” Douglass said.

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